Green Wave Forum

Blackwater River Report
(Cotton Bridge)


View: More Blackwater River reports, Northwest FL Locations 

Report By:  paddlesolo    Date: 12/6/2012 
Rating:Trip Rating     Photos: See 10 photos     Map & Directions: View


This report details an overnight camping trip on the Blackwater River from Cotton Bridge to Bryant Bridge.

My Report:

I have been an avid paddler since retiring seven years ago, but had never camped overnight on the river. This trip report covers my first canoe/camping trip.


A group led by Quincypair planned a four day paddling event with two days on the Blackwater. I decided to join for the first two days. After checking the water levels, and taking into consideration that the portage around the log jam below Kennedy is a major haul, agreement was reached that the group would paddle from Cotton Bridge on SR 4 down to Blackwater State Park, taking out at the primitive camping site which has a boat ramp. It is about a mile upstream from Deaton Bridge.

Organizing one's gear is a major task, but I had been collecting necessary items over the past couple years. I set up the tent to recall how to do it, and to allow it to air out. Then I used an on-line guide to canoe camping, eliminating those unnecessary things and checking off the list as I loaded. This attention to detail paid off since during the paddle and camping I never lacked for an item.

A paddling friend agreed to ride to the put-in and take my vehicle to her house. She also assisted with the shuttle bringing three drivers back after they left their vehicles at Blackwater River State Park. It was 10:45 by the time we finally started out and I was anxious about covering enough paddling yet stopping in time to easily set up camp before dark.

3.6 miles downstream is a wonderful landing and park called Wilderness Landing. Upstream from the boat ramp, and right on the water are two picnic pavilions with tables, a hiking trail, large grassy area for camping, and grills. Unfortunately the bath house was closed. Rumor has it that the governing agency won't open it until there is a campground host present. After a lovely lunch we continued paddling with some discussion between paddlers if 3:00 or 4:00 would be a good time to set up camp. After 9 miles consensus was reached that we would paddle another mile and hunt for a good spot.

After getting up at 4:30 am and using energy to drive a couple hours, load the canoe, paddle, and set up camp, I left the campfire at 6:00p.m. and slept until 4:00 a.m the next morning. I would like to advise paddlers on the Blackwater to expect a steady stream of helicopter traffic up and downstream as well as an occasional large 4 motor airplane. Nearby airbases use the forest area as a fly-over training site. The helicopters kept it up well into the night, and once I woke to hear that large plane heading right through my tent. I believe the reason they fly so low is to practice flying under radar. The CSX railroad also was active and I heard trains twice.

In back of the sandbar we chose for camping was a bridge to a large, grassy camping area reached by a forest road. The next morning another paddler and I hiked a ways to see if we could find out if the road went to Norman Riley Road or Bryant Bridge Road, but we didn't walk far enough. We found signs saying it was the Carr Tract under supervision of Fish and Game.

I packed up and left before the rest of the group, paddling down to Bryant Bridge and called my friend who came and picked me up. The distance from Cotton to Bryant Bridge was 11.5 miles according to the state paddling trail map. The rest of the paddlers continued on downstream and reached Blackwater River State Park around two that afternoon.

The USGS gage is located at Cotton Bridge, and checking the website showed the water level to be 1.35 feet. We didn't have any pull-overs or places so shallow we grounded and the current was still quite steady. A loaded canoe is a little more sluggish in turning and takes a lot more effort to beach or put back in the water to continue paddling. The trip was a learning experience and I can cross the canoe/camping thing off my bucket list.

Get Map & Directions for this trip


Location Data:

Difficulty: Easy
Location Type: River
Boat Type: Canoe
Distance (miles): 11.5
Fees/Costs $: free


Photos from Cotton Bridge:    (Click image to view full size)

Getting Ready No Comm
Getting Ready
Getting Ready No Comm
Getting Ready
Getting Ready No Comm
Getting Ready
Getting Ready No Comm
Getting Ready
Getting Ready No Comm
Getting Ready
Getting Ready No Comm
Getting Ready
Quincypair's Tent No Comm
Quincypair's Tent
Paddlesolo's tent No Comm
Paddlesolo's tent
Lengthening Shadows No Comm
Lengthening Shadows
Blackwater River No Comm
Blackwater River


Post Date: 12/8/2012

Go to paddlesolo's Trip JournalMore Trips and Comments on Blackwater River
More Northwest FL LocationsView Regions

Notice: Reported conditions may change and there may be errors in this text. Green Wave Forum and author(s) of individual reports shall not be held liable for any omissions and inaccuracies contained herein. Readers are cautioned to supplement reports with other sources of information when planning a trip.